The Houston Texans saw another trade from a couple seasons ago not pan out for the positive as they released reserve running back Duke Johnson this week, only two seasons after trading a third round pick for him in 2019 with the Cleveland Browns.
When Duke Johnson was traded to the Houston Texans before the ’19 season it was an exiting time as he was going to be a big part of the rushing game with Lamar Miller, but that never happened. Miller was injured in the preseason, the Texans added Carlos Hyde to the roster, and Hyde went on to rush for over 1,000 yards in ’19.
This past season, Duke Johnson was the backup for David Johnson — who was apart of the DeAndre Hopkins trade with the Arizona Cardinals — and David Johnson had most of the carries last season. Duke Johnson didn’t have the numbers he was capable of, leading to this release as the Texans re-work their roster and salary cap for the 2021 season.
In two seasons as a Houston Texans running back, Duke Johnson played in 27 regular season games where he totaled 160 carries for 645 yards and three rushing scores. In ’19 Duke Johnson averaged 4.9 yards per carry as he totaled 83 carries for 410 yards (two touchdowns) in 16 games.
This past season in 11 games played Duke Johnson collected 235 yards on 77 carries for a 3.1 yards per carry average with just one touchdown.
Houston Texans: Duke Johnson had solid receiving numbers in two seasons
In his pass catching with the Houston Texans, the ’19 season saw Duke Johnson finish with 44 receptions for 410 yards with three touchdowns. In ’20 Johnson’s numbers were 28 receptions for 249 yards with one receiving score. That season Duke Johnson also had his longest reception as a Houston Texans player, a 48-yard catch on Dec. 13 against the Chicago Bears, which ended up being his final game with the franchise.
Now the Houston Texans must not only find a running back capable of rushing the football when his number is called upon, but they need to find a dual-threat running back capable of making important receptions when on the field.
That’s the best part of Duke Johnson’s game … his talents to make receptions. His rushing numbers could have been better if he had more consistent carry totals each week, but his ability to catch passes is what will get him another job in the NFL this offseason.
With the Texans cutting their salary cap number down with this release, the franchise clears $5.025 million in cap space according to spotrac.com, and are in true rebuild mode as they also released J.J. Watt this offseason after his request. That move saved the Texans $17.5 million in cap space.
It would have been nice to see Duke Johnson back for a third year with the Houston Texans, but the NFL is a business, so it is easy to see why Houston made this decision.
On the other hand, Johnson needed to be used more, because he had more to offer the Texans compared to how he was used in games during his tenure with the franchise, and honestly the Texans will miss having Duke Johnson on their roster in 2021.